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Communication and Civic Engagement
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13th-Mar-2006 01:11 pm - final report
In case you're interested, you can read the final report on this class. Read MoreCollapse )
13th-Mar-2006 01:09 pm - Catching Up!

One last hurrah for our class: We're participating in Better Boulder/Better World on Saturday, April 8, 10 AM to 2 PM. Come to Emergency Family Services in Boulder to help with preparations for transitional housing: cleaning, painting, etc. Contact me or Sarah Ruybalid to get details and to let us know you're coming!
30th-Nov-2005 08:24 pm(no subject)

Justanothersoldier.com is exactly that; a blog written by Jason Christopher Hartley about the world as it is (or was) to be a soldier in Iraq. He was born in Salt Lake City and currently lives in Paltz, New York, and is a member of the New York Army National Guard. He began the blog because, “initially, I just wanted a way to have as easy way to keep in touch with my family so I won't have to write the same e-mails over and over again.” It was originally posted at a website but was shut down by the Army and looked down upon by many of his commanders. Later on he moved it to Justanothersoldier.com. More of his reasons behind it include his sentiment that, “if I was someone who was reading about soldiers in Iraq I would want to know how they felt. There were a lot of really good blogs about the kind of ins and outs of things that were actually going on in Iraq. I wanted to capture how it felt, viscerally, to be a soldier thrust into a situation like that.”

            Naturally there are some questions that arise as to why his commanders disapproved. Hartley acknowledged that part of it might be due to the tone, as he puts it, “I think primarily because of my tone. Sometimes things wouldn't go well, and I would document that. That is just kind of all in a day's work when you are a soldier, but they found that I was, you know, I was somehow emboldening the insurgency by letting them know we are actually human and sometimes we make mistakes.” But was it simply this, or was there something else? Commanders can be very wary about PR. I was the Cadet Commander in the Civil Air Patrol for a stint, and, although that pales in comparison and is only the Auxiliary of USAF, I can understand that the commanders would have some reason for concern. One would be soldier morale, and the threat that certain comments would have a negative impact. There would be the concern that perhaps enemies could deduce where exactly was this unit, but, as Hartley having the prerogative of staying alive, probably wasn’t a problem. Finally, and probably most importantly, the potential to have a huge impact of the public’s support or perception of the war in Iraq. Most of the news we get in the U.S is sugarcoated to a certain degree, but this perspective is different. It isn’t some reporter who could bail at any moment, it is the perspective of someone who has been ordered to go down there, train, observe, and probably kill without much choice about the matter. The pictures can also be graphically disturbing, from dead body shots (although there would be little or no possibility of identification from the photos), to a photo of one of the male soldiers dressing up for Halloween in nothing but OD body paint and a string bikini. I felt that this blog gave me a much greater understanding (as much as I can have without actually being a soldier over there), and helped widen my perspective. At one point, he addresses the question of whether or not he was bothered by people going up to him and telling him, “I support the troops but not the war.” He was not offended, and seems to be a well-thought individual with quite a few observations. The fact that this blog was blocked by the Army also gives it another new meaning and a message about freedom of speech; a freedom sometimes limited in the military. Overall, I came away from this blog much more interested in the situation in Iraq and, perhaps, more able to identify with those overseas, as if this has built a human connection. The soldiers overseas have something to say; I wonder what would happen if we listened more.

            Look at the blog. It’s worth it.

18th-Nov-2005 01:51 am - JON ROCKS...LITERALLY!!!1!!1!11!!1
This Sunday at 7:00pm (I think...) Jon will be playing a few songs with a couple of his friends at the open mic at The Harddrive Cafe in the Kittredge Commons. There are ads all around campus, so you can refer to those for the actual time (and I will figure it our too, I promise.) It would damn fine of you all to come watch this savvy, sexy (and single)kid for a bit as he plucks notes and warbles at the top of his lungs. Last week's show at The Haven was a big success, and this one is predicted to be even better.

Likewise, if you play an instrument, or have any talent (stand up, dancing, limb disjointment) you are more than welcome to join the fiasco. It's worth your while, and it's FREE. What more could you ask? Anyway, hope to see some of you there.
I was feeling impulsive today, so I decided to write a nice, friendly blog in response to the issue of humor at the expense of human dignity.

Just kidding.

Seriously, though, I'm sure all of you think I'm a very horrible person based on everything I've written or said before, and probably expect me to argue that humor at the expense of human dignity (whether it be one's own, or someone else's) is fine and dandy. The truth is, though, that I don't agree with this for a couple of reasons. As I have said so many times before, it is a simple fact of life that you will offend someone everyday simply by doing what it is you normally do, but especially if you do it with the distinct intention of harming someone. It is one thing to jab at a person's shortcomings in order to invoke change, but it's another thing to be spiteful. I have often been the victim of spite, and when I was younger, humor was often at the expense of me. I know it's hard to believe, but trust me, it's true. I understand that it does not feel good to be made the butt of the joke if it is not in good fun. So, I want you all to know that all of this cynical hilarity I call "class participation" is all in good fun. I'm almost certian I've offended all of you on one level or another, but please know that I did not do it because I don't like any of you.

Human dignity is something you find very little of these days, especially in entertainment. Here are some examples of where NOT to find it:

Snuff films - I've never seen one, and never desire to. For those of you who don't know what these are, you may want to skip a couple of lines. They are actual videotapes of people being killed, maimed, and other such atrocities. What the hell is wrong with people?

Jackass - Hilarious? Every now and then... How many times can Stevo get hit in the yarbles before he finds my foot up his ass? Grown men going out of their way to defy the primal instincts that keep us from personal harm...our prehistoric ancestors must be rolling around in their poorly crafted graves.

Howard Stern - Have any of you actually sat down and watched this? I think every other line is "Okay, and you're going to get naked, right?" or "Nice cans. You're going to get naked, right?" I watched a girl play a horrible song on a guitar while wearing nothing (not an attractive thing to do while naked, just for reference), and I wondered, "how...why...?" Befuddlement, really.

How many more shows are out there at the expense of human dignity? It's one thing to infringe on other people's dignity. At least that's open to interpretation. It's just an indicator of human failure when the self is stripped of dignity for all to see. What hope do we have if what makes us laugh is people making asses of themselve? I could go on and on about this, but the main point here is: The art of clever humor/entertainment seems to be on its way out, and this is disappointing. Leave the entertainment to the thinking people, and maybe society will start to think again.

Have a lovely day.
17th-Nov-2005 10:10 pm - Response to Cari Skogberg's Question
Personally I think it is the job of news to regulate and accurately depict stereotypes. However, entertainment media's job is to entertain. Not portray equality. What sells? What do people want to see? What is easy to relate to and understand? These are all the questions that entertainment media needs to take into consideration. The media can't expect to please everyone. That is why the entertainment media is called entertainment and news is called news because it delivers the facts. Whatever is reality needs to be portrayed in the news. There is freedom of speech in the news but the issue of objectivity comes into play. Plus the light hearted feeling we take with entertainment media which allows the "light hearted" stereotypical representations.
17th-Nov-2005 08:06 pm - Chapter 16 response
I am a respondent for Chapter 16 and there was no one who blogged for it so ill just write what I thought about it. This chapter was about morality and whether the expense of human dignity is worth a laugh. The story called Bigotry as Entertainment was especially meaningful to me. I thought it was a big step for Nora Dunn to refuse to work with Clay when he was invited to Saturday Night Live because of his raunchy and derogatory humor. I thought it was important for her to stand for what she believes in. I also think that MTV banning him proved that our society has come farther in putting moral consideration above humor. I think it showed viewers it is acceptable not to agree with everything put on television and portrayed through the media. The story, They Call It Paradise was also compelling because it showed how shallow television has become. It showed how much our society values money and sex. People value this and, as reality TV shows, they will do almost anything to live in this fantasy world the media and producers create.
16th-Nov-2005 12:17 pm - Response to today's question posed
In response to the question today, I think that the entertainment media does not hold the responsibility for accurately portraying stereotypes, but the news does. In my opinion if people only want to put one race on sitcoms, then so be it. Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. I think you can stereotype any race the way you want, just don't expect people to listen to you. The news on the other hand has an obligation to give the facts, and stereotypes aren't factual. I think that the news should be portraying minority and race as it is in everyday life, because we look to the news for our information. We do not usually take sitcoms or other entertainment seriously. That is just my opinion.
16th-Nov-2005 09:13 am - Chapter 15
I thought the section in Chapter 15 about how TV programs today feature no diversity was sadly true. On any given popular TV show, its hard to find a minority, and if one is there, they are often represented very stereotypically. When the book asked "Do television networks have a moral obligation to reflect cultural diversity?" I think they do. If the networks are going to put out shows that they expect to be hits, they have to include everyone and make their shows appeal to everyone. In the situation with DC comics, I think that it was very unethical of the company to take the boys idea and pretty much fire them. I know that this kind of thing happens fairly often, but its wrong. The two boys created the idea and the comic, and for DC Comics to snatch their idea and kick them out shows a lot about the character of the company. It was good that the boys were given money after an appeal, but I still think it would have been a much better situation had the boys been able to have creative control of their own idea.
16th-Nov-2005 01:19 am - Nobody Wins Ever: Part II
Jon, here, for your daily downer. This just in, no one wins. You can't do a damn thing in this country without offending someone. America's biggest problem is trying to please everyone, and quite frankly, some people don't deserve to be pleased (eg: that agenda pushing TA in 1001...she'll never be happy as long as males of the straight persuasion are still around.) Hmmm...that might have been a little too harsh. And it's also a generalization. Now, see, I've offended some of you, and others I made chuckle a little. Life is always at the expense of someone else. At what point do you draw the line and say, "all profits go to me now?" Of course I think it's wrong to cheat others out of their fair share to make an outrageous profit. You don't need $10 million a year to live happily and comfortabley, especially if it's at the expense of someone who could use a little of that $10 million to simply survive. It's a simple issue of separating greed from ambition, and no one can seem to define where this separation is. Like Mackenzie said, though, we live in a capitalist society. The idea of communism has already been ruined by Russia, Cuba, and China, so the true contentions of that societal form (however impractical) are out of the public's eyes. It's not wrong to strive for riches. It's wrong to step on others too much. Nobody will define "too much" for fear that it will infringe on what they have. That's too bad.

Well, anyway, I grow weary of typing now. I'll let you people take it from here. If you don't like it, here is a good place to go.
16th-Nov-2005 01:16 am - Nobody Wins Ever: Part I
Alright. Let's start off with minorities on TV shows. There is a very big problem that television producers are faced with, and that is stereotypes. The minute a show about minorities airs, it will be bombarded with criticism that it's stereotyping a group, and that it is racist. People don't see it because most TV shows revolve around white people, but white people are stereotyped all the time on TV as well as minorities. I'll be damned if my life is anything like "Laguna Beach" (and if you watch that show, I give you the one fingered sallute - even you girls. There's no excuse.) "Home Improvement?" is that show even on anymore? (give me a break, I don't watch TV. Figure out your own sitcoms) Anyway, that's not what my family is like. "Real World?" Moral obligations restrict me from commenting further here...The point is that the minute you step onto TV (in the forum of a fictional show), you are a stereotype. It's the sad truth. There's no way to avoid it because the targeted audience of TV programs (preferabley everyone) is much too diverse, even within a minority group. Don't get me wrong, I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be represented equally on TV. I'm just asking, is that what people really want?

As for the Superman creators, I agree wholeheartedly. DC comics deserves a kick in the ass for that one. Everyone gets down on corporations for their advertising policies, but at least that is ethical (for the most part). It's the hidden swindling that everyone knows exists, but can blissfully ignore because it's not in plain view. That's killing the American dream. "Come up with an original idea, put it into action, and then sell it to some sadistical number crunching bastard in a corporation that will bilk you out of your hard earned money!" Okay, that's enough out of me. You figure it out the rest of the way.

Jon, out.
16th-Nov-2005 12:55 am - Response to Chp. 15
I agree with Justin in that DC comics did the correct things in assiting the two men. Seeing as how such a little amount of money that DC gave the two men, little amount of money in comparison to what DC comics makes, it was certainly the correct thing to do. The real amazing thing that I got out of the story is that they only asked, and were gratified with $40,000. It seems to me that most people today recognize a companies extremly large bank rolls and try to drain them for everhything they can. It makes me happy to see realistic people in the world doing realistic things, of course the two creators could have argued that Superman was their's, but they accepted an amount of money that could most definatley support them. It works out well both ways, the two men recieve pay for their work and DC comics looks like a caring, kind company. When in truth the completly ripped off these two men.
The chapter begins with the powerful statement, "ratings are what television is about, not freedom, not truth. If American television could sell lies and falsehoods more profitably, we would never hear another word of truth." This statemet sets the cynical tone for the remainder of the chapter and stood out the most to me. It seems like this is the case for most industries, not just television. The idea that money is what makes us run in this capitalistic society is not always good when dealing with ethical issues but is inevitable at the time being. People want to make the most and be the best which can be good and bad but I believe that ethics should be taken into consideration but not overanalyzed like in the case of "Crude Script for Tinsel Town."
15th-Nov-2005 11:01 pm - Chapter 15 Blogging
Chapter 15 is about profit, wealth and public trust in media. The story that I found most compelling in the chapter was that of Sue Thomas. Sue is a deaf woman who worked for the FBI in decoding the voice in surveillance tapes by reading lips. A show on PAX TV was recently produced based on her life. The show, Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye had controversial casting in that the main character, that of Sue Thomas, was given to a deaf actress to better emulate the real-life stories of the real Sue Thomas. Here is an article about the TV show and the real Sue Thomas:


This chapter dealt with the ethical and moral obligations to cast TV shows with the same ratios of minorities that there are in real life. Also, there was a story about the creators of Superman. The NAACP has been lobbying for TV execs to be more socially conscious when casting TV shows. Of all the prime-time TV shows produced for each fall-line-up, there are nearly none that focus on a minority character. In fact, the book specifically mentions The Cosby Show as a defining moment in TV's use of minorities on TV. The TV execs insist that the reason that there are mostly white people on TV is that after a lot of market research, it has been found that shows with more white people can sell their advertising time for more money. While I believe that it is the nature of capitalism and free-markets to do what is in the self-interest of the TV networks and to do what will make them the most money, at the same time, I think that the TV networks have an obligation to the people who own the TV Waves to broadcast TV that represents the ratios of minorities in the real world.
There is another story in this chapter about the creators of the comic strip Superman. They were just two young boys during the depression who drew and enjoyed making up their comics. They were paid only $20 per week, but that was enough at the time. A short time after they sold the right o superman to DC comics, DC comics basically fired them, and had a new group of people draw and create Superman comics. The two boys ended up with nothing, while DC comics was making millions off of Superman. Years later, the two boys were disabled and living in near poverty, while their idea was making people millions. After an appeal to DC comics, the company gave in and decided to award the two $40,000 annually. While this was bascially pocket-change for DC comics, it provided a new lease on life for the two men who had given much, and recieved almost nothing. I think that DC comics did the right thing in this case. They took the kid's million dollar idea and gave them basically nothing, while they made millions. I think that DC comics had an obligation to help the two men after thay had asked for it.
14th-Nov-2005 03:41 pm - Response to "Shades of gray"..?
I don't know if this was meant for a response but I am going to go ahead and hope it will. Defining our media's present state is done completely and throughly in Noel's examples. I believe that morals and ethics go hand in hand in the majority of cases, and especially in this situation morality, ethics, patriotism, and political views are all holding hands. Thus making the situation all the more difficult to answer, more so what is the question or way to even go about instances like terror and a war without congressional support. Emotion is always the number one seller for entertainment, which I consider the news to be a part of, and in this prolonged time of National fear and confusion our media will do everything in it's power to play off these emotions. I also don't really know what to think about that, on one side I see no harm in a highly influential media outlet such as newsbrodcasting reporting news to support our country. But when the news reported is slanted to make our country look better or in the right, it is clearly wrong. Basically it's somewhat of a catch-22 if we only followed our own feelings we would not be united as a country because we would have no means of which to spread our feelings nationally, but if we support and follow only one President's views and decisions we will not have as powerful support as if we had stayed with our own personal beliefs in the first place.
13th-Nov-2005 07:51 pm - No Shades of Gray
This article discusses the actions and decisions made by President Bush after the tragedy of September 11. Bush made a “binary” resolution that was a construction of an “either/or reality”. Then the article discusses how this affects the media and why the media thrives on this kind of political action.
Hutcheson, Domke, Billeaudeaux, and Garland put it perfectly, “a commercial press, by definition, will always be a patriotic press when the nation is threatened.” This defines our media to a “t”. When we are weak and lost and fearful our media will do everything in their power to jump on our emotions and impress how important it is to unite. When a politician, especially our president, impresses this way of thinking it further supports the media’s influence. It makes for good television.
I am only choosing to write on this particular section of the article because I think it is especially important to our class. Should the media take on the view of politicians or should they give the facts and leave the patriotism to the people? I am not saying what I think but it is curious to me if that is the best solution or not. Because in a national crisis shouldn’t everyone, including the media, be all gung ho about national unity! Which one is more ethical? And is ethical the question or morality? Just something to think about!

This is the speech that Bush tells the nation to decide between terrorism and the nation. The media ate up every bit of nationalism they could. Here is the link for the thing that started it all: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html
11th-Nov-2005 09:38 am(no subject)
Ummm? I am suppose to Respond to Chapter 14 but don't see any blogger??
I feel that our society is ALWAYS blaiming the Entertainment Industry for their own personal problems. I mean so what if Ozzy wrote a song that might have brought up suicide... Ozzy is the one singing and writing it- and you don't see him committing suicide! I think that parents are and should be 100% responsible if their child is going through a stage of depression that might lead to suicide. Parents need to be around their child enough to know if something of great magnitude like suicide is effecting their kid. Why should the entertainment Industry have to feel responsible for putting out only "safe" entertainment. Not everyone who wathces or listens to a certain movie or song is going out and killing themselves, and if that was the case then maybe we would have a problem. But thats not the case. The point is is that the millions of other people listening and watching the same things that these few people are blaming their problems on is wrong. No matter what, there is always going to be someone affended, someone hurt, and the industy to blame. For example a little girl could look at Barbie, then suddenly feel inclined to be anorexic... Does this mean that the mother should go ahead and sue Mattel? No, the PARENT should be responsible for getting his/her child help. Every little thing, even something as fun-loving as Barbie can be critized, and is going to be blamed. What people need to do is pay more attention to the ones closest to them, since they are the ones that will help and matter, not the entertainment industry.
11th-Nov-2005 08:52 am - Chapter 14
In Chapter 14, the chapter about violence in entertainment, I found some of the stories to be at the fault of the consumer, and not the entertainment industry. The first story was about John McCollum, who committed suicide after (his parents say) listening to Ozzy Osbourne. I think that if he was depressed enough to kill himself, he would've done it with Ozzy or without. Simply listening to a few songs does not instill a desire to commit suicide. He obviously had other problems in his life besides the fact that he enjoyed heavy metal music. With the story about the tv movie "Born Innocent" and the real-life rape that occurred days later, I think that children are so inundated with violence that it is hard for them to draw the line between what is okay on tv and what is okay in their lives. I These children are far too young to be watching violent crimes on tv, and it is the job of their parents or guardians to censor what their kids are exposed to. With the "Jurassic Park" case, it was purely the parents fault. If they see a movie with a PG-13 rating, they should know that it would not be suitable for their 5 year old. Despite the seemingly fool-proof rating system, I have seen numerous kids in movies that are way over their head. Last weekend I saw a dad taking his two sons who couldn't have been older than 10 into the movie "Saw II". It just baffled me that he would think it would be okay to expose his unnecessary amount of violence and sex on TV and in movies and comics, it is the parents job to watch what their kids are seeing and learning from. The media is going to continue to put out what sells and excites, they aren't going to stop because a 5 year old got scared in "Jurassic Park".
The question that I kept asking myself while reading this chapter is, "where in the world are these kid's parents?" In the instance of John McCollum, yes, it is awful that he committed suicide, but it is obvious that everyone in his life knew he was distraught. It says, "[John] had problems with alcohol abuse that complicated other serious emotional problems." If his family knew that, why wasn't he ever taken to a psychologist, why wasn't he helped in any way? Where were his parents!? They obviously knew he had problems, yet they decided not to confront him, and THEN, after the fact, sue CBS. Sure, Ozzy may have contributed to John's decision to kill himself, but Ozzy was clearly misinterpreted. The parents, in my opinion, were neglectful from the beginning.
In another story about Jurassic Park, I found myself asking the same question, 19% of people who saw it in it's first week were under 12. Ummm, what were the parents thinking? Did they see the trailers for the film? It is a PG-13 movie about Dinosaurs who escape from a lab. Even the fact that it was written by Michael Crichton should have been some sort of tip-off that this was not a film about Barney's kind grandparents.
In another story, Comic Capers, they talk about how comics are gory and bloody, but never show the consequences of their actions. In my opinion, this is because they are COMICS, and not stories of actual life! If it is not a parents job to steer their children into seeing that comics are just that, entertaining depictions of super-heros (which don't exist, sorry everyone) and killing does have awful consequences, then whose is it? Surly not the gov't's. They cannot be everyone's mom.
After reading this chapter, it became clear to me who was responsible for censoring what their children see - THE PARENTS. There will always be explicit or violent images, books, music, etc.. in society and that is what makes America great: Free-Speech, but there is no law that says you have to take in ALL free-speech. It is a parents job to research a film before they take their 11 year-old to a PG-13 film, it is a parent's job to make sure that their kid is still balanced after listening to hours and hours of Ozzy. I feel bad for parents who don't realize that they are responisible for more than taking their kids to soccer practice and cooking dinner, but you cannot blame or make the government responsible for censoring media that may make a few people act irrationally.
10th-Nov-2005 10:41 pm - Random response to chapter 14!
Well I'm not sure that anyone is blogging for this chapter...there were like 4 respondants on the schedule, but no blogger. Hmmm....?
The chapter dealt with a very important and controversial issue surrounding media. Violence on television, and in movies, video games, and comics affects all viewers, but specifically children. The children that are most impressionable to the media are the target for most of the content. Video games and comic books are made for kids but are not neccessarily appropriate for them. I feel that they should be regulated and controlled by the makers and by the government. Kids are emulating what they see... and what they see is violence. According to the case "Comic Capers," "Peaceful resolution of conflict" is rarely found in comics.
On the other hand, I do not believe that it is the job of television producers to edit informative, educational content to cater to kids. NBC should not be responsible for the rape of a young girl on the chance that the idea came from one of their programs. Before the program was aired, there was a clear warning that it may not be for the eyes of children. It is unfortunate that most parents cannot monitor everything their children see, but the innovation of good television should not be limited by that fact.
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